Briefing by Commander of Division No 340, Brigadier-General Eyal Shlein, IDF Spokesperson, April 12, 2002.
Firstly, I would like to emphasize that the IDF continues in its war in the region under my command. I would also like to express my condolences to the families of the solders who were slain in the line of duty. I would also like to express my wishes, and those of my soldiers, for a speedy recovery to injured soldiers.
We went out on a mission with the intent of destroying the terrorist infrastructure, to thwart terrorist attacks, and to remove the threat of terrorism inside Israel. This is one of the most justified wars, and I am very much at peace with it.
Yesterday, the toughest kernel fell in practice, being destroyed in part. Most of the wanted suspects were arrested or killed. We will continue to operate and remove the rest of the terror mechanisms.
Much weaponry has been found. So have explosives, explosive charges and everything that can be smuggled in and be put together. From our investigations, children were engaged in preparing explosive devices. Many laboratories have been found one of which was also a place for making the explosive materials themselves, including a lathe and a room for the assembling of the materials. Apparently, we will continue to come across buildings and alleys with booby traps.
A balanced person does not boobytrap his house with the intent to return to it. Jenin is a city and a camp that has produced many suicide assassins. Among the detainees, there was a large number of suicide bombers who were prepared with videos already en route to carry out suicide attacks. Those who had helped them were found, and some of them were killed.
Explosive belts are too numerous to be counted. The houses are trapped, and there are still dozens of explosive devices.
It is a very tight building area on a slope in which there are very few roads, and the passage of vehicles is almost impossible.
The hardcore of the terrorist exploits local residents who do not want to fight. Some of them are hostages, whose houses are being used as booby traps. We have encircled them in the course of a speedy operation which prevented the terrorists from running away.
This encircling caused them to fight to the very end and as a consequence we suffered casualties, but at the same time it aided the completion of our mission and the destruction of terrorist infrastructures, the apprehension of hundreds of wanted suspects including very senior ones.
During combat, infantry and armor reserve units composed of soldiers from Golani and Givati operated side by side. The combat takes place in a territory 36,000 square meters, and most of the battle took place in an area of 2500 square feet, with an extremely difficult coordination of forces. This is proof of the high ability of our soldiers.
We found yet again, as in previous wars, that the IDF is mainly based on regular forces but its power is in its reserve units.
I would like to congratulate the reserve and regular soldiers and to tell the nation that the mission will go on as long as necessary in order to combat the terror. It is quite likely that terrorist attacks will continue, but the military is accomplishing the goals of its operation.
Questions and Answers:
Q: Have you taken over the entire city?
A: The combing and the combat are still going on and will apparently continue since the terrorists have a large amount of weaponry, but the hardcore terrorists has surrendered, caught or killed. At the same time, there are still people, including children, who use weapons.
Q: What about the publications regarding a massacre and the prevention of media coverage?
A: There was no massacre whatsoever. If we wanted to perform a massacre, we could have taken over the camp in one day. The IDF did not use artillery or aircraft.
The IDF is one of the most humanitarian armies in the world. It is important to emphasize that whoever uses women, children and the elderly as defensive shields – would pay a price for doing so. We have also paid our price.
Q: What about the transport of corpses?
A: We are still at war. We have taken our corpses and as to the rest, the Palestinians did not want to remove them.
Q: Is there an intent to wipe off the refugee camp?
A: No. Many buildings are booby trapped. The more we enter the center of the camp, the more boobytraps we encounter. We do not want to suffer casualties. We intend to demolish the buildings which are boobytrapped because after we get everyone out, they will accuse us of leaving trapped houses.
Q: What about the allegations regarding the prevention of humanitarian support?
A: During the battle, the curfew was lifted. We made possible the supply of food, fuel and electricity in the hospital. Some of the houses were indeed destroyed, but the ones who are responsible for this destruction are those who had arranged the village for this kind of fighting.
Q: What about the retreat of forces and what would happen following the withdrawal? Does the fact that the operation in Jenin was delayed jeopardized it and in effect facilitated the attack which led to the death of 13 reserve soldiers?
A: The deadly trapped explosives could have been present at the beginning of the operation and in other areas as well. Although there was not much time to prepare, we were prepared in an commendable form with plans for what would take place following the attack.
The operation is not over yet and the fighting is still going on. We will continue to comb and search for wanted suspects and weaponry in the villages and also in Jenin, where many explosive charges, wanted suspects, laboratories, and vehicles rigged with explosives were found. The withdrawal date is not up to us.
Q: The operation was supposed to take many weeks and even months, and now it is almost over. Has the political pressure influenced the consequences of the attack?
A: I do not deal with the political aspect. The operation in Jenin is yet to be completed. The difficult battle has ended and most terrorists and wanted suspect were apprehended or killed.